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D'Youville University Receives a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching Grant from the Women's Sports Foundation for the second year in a row

September 13, 2023
Ellen Newton and Billie Jean King at WSF Conference

D'Youville University announced today it received a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant from the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF). Grants were awarded to institutions to support collegiate women coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development, and mentorship. D'Youville University is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grants, which are designated for women coaching fellows in a wide variety of women's sports.

Ellen Newton and Rebecca Capinera at Title IX Celebration in the HUB

"We are proud to be a member of this year's class of the Women's Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients," said Rebecca Capinera, Associate Athletic Director of Internal Affairs at D'Youville University. "D'Youville believes in the critical importance of closing the gender gap within leadership and the coaching ranks. We are honored and grateful to the Women's Sports Foundation for their commitment to women in coaching and supporting the next generation."

"Last year with the Women's Sport Foundation provided such pivotal professional development for our fellow, Ellen Newton. Her impact has touched so many areas of our department and we look forward to continuing that growth in year two," said Capinera, Mentor Coach for fellow Ellen Newton.

WSF VanDerveer Fellow, Ellen Newton, is currently entering her fourth year at D'Youville University at the start of the 2023-24 academic year. Newton began in the fall of 2019 as the graduate assistant coach for the women's lacrosse team while enrolled in the occupational therapy program.

"This fellowship allows me to have a voice as a young female coach within our department as well as our institution," said Newton. "Last year, I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the various conferences I was able to attend. I am excited to expand and apply those lessons by taking on more leadership roles within our department, not just strength and conditioning.

Ellen Newton and Billie Jean King at WSF Conference

Upon completion of her master's degree in occupational therapy, Newton was elevated to the Assistant Women's Lacrosse Coach, working strictly with the goalkeepers, at the start of the 2021-22 academic year. During the 2022 season, Newton played an integral role in the Saints' first East Coast Conference appearance. Newton and the Saints put forth nearly identical seasons during the 2023 campaign, reaching the ECC Tournament once again.

Ellen Newton standing in front of a Project Play Poster

This is the second time that Newtown has received the WSF VanDerveer Fellowship, with the first time coming during the 2022-23 academic year. Newton received the WSF VanDerveer Fellowship as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach where she worked with a diverse number of teams throughout the year. Being selected once again as the WSF VanDerveer Fellow, Newton will work closely with the women's rowing, baseball, and men's soccer teams where she will create sport-specific workout strength and conditioning programs.

Prior to Newtons arrival at D'Youville, Newton was a four-year member of the Canisius College women's lacrosse team. Newton graduated from Canisius in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in health and wellness.


Since Title IX's passage, the percentage of women in collegiate coaching roles has declined by more than 50%. During the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of women's college teams had women as head coaches. Fast forward to the 2021-2022 academic year, where women held only 41% of head coaching positions in women's NCAA sports. Furthermore, BIPOC women, who have historically been under-represented in the coaching ranks, held only 7% of head coaching roles in women's NCAA sports. In the same year, only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women, with only 7% of all assistant coaches for men's and women's teams being BIPOC women.

According to the data, there is a clear lack of representation in coaching positions throughout the country; WSF is addressing this by growing the pipeline at the collegiate level by awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund. Throughout the grant year, WSF implements a program for VanDerveer Fellows that opens doors to mentoring opportunities with coaches and leaders in the collegiate space, including a call with Tara VanDerveer and invitations to workshops addressing topics to help aspiring women coaches thrive in today's collegiate sports landscape.

The Fund has seen success and has made an impact during its short lifespan. Out of the first four classes, 25 VanDerveer Fellows continue to lead in coaching roles, six have stepped into head coaching positions and four have used their fellowship experience to secure jobs in a sports-related field.

"We at the Women's Sports Foundation know that building a strong pipeline for women in leadership is vital to ensure the sports ecosystem for girls and women continues to grow on and off the field of play," said WSF CEO Danette Leighton. "When girls and young women have powerful role models to look up to, such as coaches and beyond, it empowers them to keep playing and strive to reach their own full potential. That is why we are determined to continue our work to close the coaching gender gap with this important Fund that honors Tara VanDerveer's history-making legacy."

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